Volcanoes are cool, but it’s hard to get close to them sometimes because they are literally made out of hot lava. Drones, with their ability to carry a camera, fly into places humans shouldn’t go, and not feel pain, are a great alternative for exploring the molten floor of a crater. Humans have flown drones into volcano smoke plumes, sent a rolling robot into volcanic fissures, and casually piloted quadcopters over lava flows and around craters.
In 41 seconds, the video below shows drones’ great potential as mapping tools. Flying over an area deeper than the Empire State Building is tall and wide enough to contain a football field, the mappers used a DJI Phantom quadcopter and special drone mapping software to create a three-dimensional model of the Ambrym Volcano on the Pacific island of Vanuatu. The rendering captures its depths and folds, nooks and crannies, and even the glowing red-hot lava center at the middle. The map and renderings may help geologists understand the volcano and its risks.